11 states receive water management grants

June 5, 2013 -  By

The U.S. Department of the Interior has awarded $20.8 million in grant money to 44 projects in 11 western states for water management improvements and supplies.

The projects that earned WaterSMART water and energy efficiency grants will collectively conserve water for more than 400,000 people, enough energy equivalent for nearly 1,000 households, thanks to reduced pumping and the addition of more efficient equipment.

“Throughout the West, we’re seeing that drought, growing populations and energy demands and basic environmental needs are stressing our finite water and energy supplies,” Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said. “These WaterSMART grants will help stretch water supplies and improve water and energy efficiencies in communities throughout the West to support sustainable uses of our limited resources.”

The Department of the Interior established WaterSMART (Sustain and Manage America’s Resources for Tomorrow) three years ago to facilitate the work of its bureaus in pursuing a sustainable water supply for the nation.

“Water is a precious resource, and using it more efficiently is important to ensure a sustainable supply for agricultural, municipal and industrial use, recreation and for the environment,” Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor said. “Through collaborative programs such as WaterSMART, the federal government works with state and local entities to update infrastructure and improve operations to help meet water and energy demands now and in the future.”

The entities that earned the grants must provide at least a 50% match to the reclamation funding. States, Indian tribes, irrigation districts, water districts or other organizations with water or power delivery authority in the 17 western states, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the Virgin Islands, are eligible.

Applicants applied to one of two funding groups. The first included 25 projects that could receive up to $300,000, were generally smaller, and may take up to two years to complete. The second included 10 projects that could receive up to $1.5 million for larger, phased projects that may take up to three years to complete. This provides an opportunity for larger, multi-year projects to receive some funding in the first year without having to compete for funding in the second and third years. Nine projects selected in the second funding group in fiscal year 2012 will receive additional funding this fiscal year to finish the projects.

Proposals were ranked through a published set of criteria in which points were awarded for projects that conserve water, incorporate renewable energy or address the water-energy nexus, address Endangered Species Act concerns, contribute to water supply sustainability, and/or incorporate water marketing.

 

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